Episode #2

TRBQ: Why Do We Share?

Friday, March 14th at 10pm on 93.9FM, Saturday, March 15th at 6am on 93.9FM, and Sunday, March 16th at 7am on AM 820

« previous episode | next episode »

Friday, March 14, 2014

On this episode of The Really Big Questions, host Dean Olsher explores how humans may have been shaped by evolution to naturally share, donate and cooperate. (Photobac)

Are humans basically selfish, or basically giving? That's the question up for debate in this second episode of the six-part series The Really Big Questions. Host Dean Olsher explores how and why humans gravitate towards doing good deeds. He'll also get answers on why some people believe we have been shaped by evolution to care about each other, to share, and to cooperate.

It's not the popular way of thinking in modern times, but Olsher's guests think we don't give ourselves enough credit. During the special, he will speak with a variety of experts:

  • Elders of the Maasai tribe in Kenya explain their system of sharing
  • Evolutionary biologist Athena Aktipis talks about cooperation among humans and among cancer cells
  • Primatologist Frans de Waal, who studies generosity and altruism in other primates, argues that humans are driven by biology, not culture, to be altruistic

Listen in to hear why sharing is possibly a part of our genetic make-up, and get a sense of the work being done to prove this theory.

Comments [2]

Sari Broner from Berkeley, CA

I was quite happy when I began listening to this program on sharing, because it is what I believe. But, by the end, I was fuming because there was not one woman's voice as an expert or scientist on your program -- fuming because this is yet another subject that women pioneered and are then left out of. Talk about sharing! Women's studies programs worked so hard to counter the popular narratives put forth by men, especially in science and sociology, that we are autonomous actors. It was women who pointed the way to relationship, to context as equally important. For instance, Carol Stacks' All Our Kin, countered Moynihan's "culture of poverty," theories that resulted in so much less aid to the poor. Her work showed that the network of relations between black women in poverty was what helped them survive. There are many, many women who pioneered the "really important ideas" you're exploring. Nearly always, by the time breakthrough ideas by women make it into the public discourse, they have been mediated by layers of intermediaries, or taken up by male researchers who do not "share" credit with the women whose ideas they benefit from.

Apr. 17 2014 12:23 AM
James Shortall

The Science of Generosity initiative at the University of Notre Dame is supporting and conducting research on the causes, manifestations and consequences of generosity. To learn more you can go to

Mar. 14 2014 04:34 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.